Wednesday, December 12

Year of the Cat, Dog, Bird, Horse, Rabbit, etc.

This week’s topic is pets, and the sad truth is, at the moment, I don’t have any.

Growing up I had lots of pets, ranging from the exotic—lizards, snakes, tarantulas, parrots, etc., to the not-so-exotic, like—dogs, rabbits, turtles, and even a horse. But no cats, since my dad was allergic.

And even though you’re not supposed to play favorites, I still did. And I’m not ashamed to admit that Snoopy and Lucky were my chosen ones. Probably because I didn’t have to “share” them with my sisters since they were received as much hinted for birthday gifts, which clearly designated them as “mine.”

Snoopy came first. As a major fan of Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts Gang” I’d longed for a beagle of my own. And on my eighth birthday, when I was presented with an adorable tri-colored pup, I didn’t even hesitate to name him after my favorite character.

“Are you SURE you want to name him Snoopy?” My mom asked, phrasing the question as carefully as she could.

“Of course!” I said, overcome with the glee of wish fulfillment.

“Because, the thing is, Snoopy is going to live for a VERY long time. You’re going to have him WELL into your TEENAGE years.”

“So?” I shrugged, having no idea what she could possibly be getting at—until six years later, when boys started coming over, and I found myself cringing every time they’d ask my dog’s name.

For my twelfth birthday, I got Lucky (my horse!). And as it’d only taken three years of begging, three years of riding double on my friend’s horses, I felt like I’d finally arrived.

Ours was a horsy kind of neighborhood and all of my friends had one. We were obsessed with our horses, riding them everyday after school and on weekends, making up songs about them, dedicating our art projects to them, making up conversations of what they’d say to each other if they could actually talk, and as my parent’s were soon headed for divorce, Lucky provided the perfect escape from what was becoming a volatile house.

So two years later, when Lucky became ill and had to be put down, (an experience I touched on in FAKING 19), it felt like the end of the world. And I found myself turning back to Snoopy, not that I’d ever turned AWAY from him, but it’s not like I could saddle him up either. And true to my mom’s earlier prediction, he lived for a very long time, passing on when I was well out of school and on one of my travels through Europe.

I’m glad I wasn’t home to say goodbye, because back then; I wasn’t very good at them. And truth be told, I haven’t owned another pet since (other than a brief flirtation with a goldfish I referenced in FLY ME TO THE MOON.)

Yet there’s a special kind of joy that only a pet can bring into your life, which is why, soon, sometime soon, I plan to try again.

What about you—did you have a favorite pet growing up??



Little Willow said...

My beautiful cats - Twinkie, Hollywood, and Spooky. I miss them terribly.

Amanda Ashby said...

Hehehe - your Snoopy story reminds me of my friend and her two sisters who all INSISTED on calling their corgi, Fluffy. Actually, I don't even know why I find that so funny, but it always makes me laugh because their dad kept trying to talk them out of it and they would not be budged!!!!

Gerb said...

We never got to have dogs or cats when I was growing up because my dad is blind and he was afraid of stepping on them or tripping over them, so we had to make do with hamsters and gerbils that could be kept in 'habitats'. You don't bond quite as much with a hamster as a dog. I don't even remember their names...


Brooke Taylor said...

I've always been an animal person--have way too many to feel comfortable discussing and even getting adopting another dog for Christmas.

My first dog was a white German Sheperd--not sure how my parents let an nine year old girl get a dog like that (they have a bad rep)--but he turned out to be a very gentle soul (unless you were another male dog). I named him Casper after the ghost.

Alyson Noel said...

Hey Little Willow- I know how you feel, it's like losing a friend.

Amanda- Okay, Fluffy really is a funny name for a Corgi!

Gerb- That's the one pet I never had. Though we did buy plenty of mice to feed to the snakes--awful, I know!

Brooke- Oh, another animal named after a cartoon character- I love it!

Brooke Taylor said...

Oh--I forgot all about my first horse! Well, not about her, but what I wanted to name her. Her name was Rio Rita, and "Rita" was a black QH. I wanted to re-name her Black Beauty. Naturally no one agreed with me, and people would say--well, that's a neat name,'s a pretty long name--can you see yourself calling her out in the pasture "Black Beauty! Black Beauty!" ??

As a teen, I wanted to rename my other horse Zee to Zhivago, because my friend at the expensive stable always had these cool show names for her horse.

I'm glad I didn't re-name either of them!

Jessica Burkhart said...

I had a Tennessee Walking horse, Sallie, and she was my first horse. I miss her greatly.

Now, I have a cat that I adopted when I was 14 and I love her more every day :)

Sara Hantz said...

We had a black lab called Sam from when I was 8 until 22, so he saw me through all my growing up years. When we had to have him put down it was so awful... I can still remember it.

Alyson Noel said...

Hey Brooke- Oh I dreamed of a horse named Black Beauty- mostly because of the book. But since Lucky came with the name, I stuck with it!

Hey Jessica- Tennessee Walkers are beautiful- you're so lucky!

Hey Sara- I know, putting a pet down is just awful. . .

Anonymous said...

We once had a cute dog named Charlie but my Mother sent him away because he pooped too much.
We think you are pretty and we love you Alyson!!!

Jacob & Jessica

Alyson Noel said...

Hey Jacob and Jessica--
I once had a dog named Charlie too- he was Snoopy's side kick, and though his real name was "Beau Mechant Charles" (he was a papered dog that my grandma gave to us because he wasn't "perfect" and sported an overbite- which I happened to love because it made him look like he was smiling), we soon started calling him "Charlie Brown"--more embarrassment!

Thanks so much for stopping by-- and for the very kind words!

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